Saturday 27 November 2010

The Importance of Parks

I was on Wimbledon Common yesterday afternoon for a couple of hours. I usually go running on the common but yesterday I cycled there and did some walking. I hurt my right heel running the day before and it's giving me ,"jip."

If you look at a map of London you will notice that there are a lot of parks; green spaces. English towns and cities and all local communities have their parks, commons and recreation grounds. The emphasise is slightly different for each but fundamentally they are the same, they are large areas of trees, open grassland, ponds, lakes, recreation facilities and sports facilities provided for the enjoyment of the population and they are free. They are what make big cities, towns and communities human places to live. Parks keep us sane. Walking in a park, taking in the wildlife, the changing seasons, or perhaps playing a sport, keeps us healthy in mind and body.They are places where you can go and be silent within yourself, get in touch with your inner being before you once more enter the fray.They almost have a spiritual quality.

London has it's famous parks, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regents Park, Green Park, Battersea Park, St James's Park, Primrose Hill and Battersea Common and these are just the well known ones. Every community has it's local park. Where I live in South London, The Sir Joseph Hood Park is my local. More famously there is the royal park, Richmond Park, two miles in one direction from me and two miles in the other direction is Wimbledon Common. I visit both regularly to walk, run and cycle.

Here are some pictures from my walk on Wimbledon Common yesterday.

AND here is a link to the common website:

The windmill in the centre of the common.Trees and shadows.

Wide open spaces. There are two golf courses on the common, London Scottish and The Royal Wimbledon Golf Club.
Gates and fencing.
One of the park keepers cottages. Park keepers or conservators are employed full time. They ride on horse back around the common and wear a fetching dark green uniform.
Christmas must be on the way.
Swans on Queensmere pond.
A walk in the woods.
Autumn yellowing leaves.
Light through the foliage.
A dead tree or a dinosaur as my youngest daughter used to call it.
A frosty morning.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Bonfire Night 5th November

The Scout Hut and grounds,  a few hundred yards from my house where our local Guy Fawkes celebrations happen on November 5th every year.

Quite a large crowd gathered to watch Guy Fawkes's effigy burn.

A policeman keeps order.

In England we celebrate Guy Fawkes night on November 5th every year.We have been doing this for four hundred years. Guy Fawkes was a Roman Catholic terrorist who, in 1605, tried to blow up The Houses of Parliament and the Protestant, King James Ist and all the lords and nobles of the time.Guy Fawkes, whose real name was Guido Fawkes, was born in York within a short distance of York Minster. For such a large undertaking as killing the King and the whole government,he could not possibly have been alone in his endeavours. In fact, although he is the most famous of the group, he was far from the most important. He was merely a hired soldier who knew about explosives and how to use them effectively to blow things up. There was a whole cabal of plotters who eventually were caught and paid for their treachery with their lives. They were hung, drawn and quartered. A brutal and vicious way to die.

You might say that plotting and terrorist acts have been going on throughout history, and so they have. So why is there so much significance placed on this particular, failed plot? It was the scale and audacity of their undertaking that shook the establishment. The plotters were brutally executed as a sign to deter others. King James wanted others, who might think of plotting against him, to realise that this sort of undertaking was not a good idea. He made villages and towns throughout the country remember the plot each year. They had to burn a bonfire and also burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes, to show what might happen to anybody who tried it again.

The celebration was so strictly observed it actually became a tradition.Eventually it was an occasion of fun and enjoyment. It was a happy gathering in the darkening, damp, cold, autumn days. Nowadays we eat burgers and hot dogs and wave glow sticks about while we watch fireworks go off and see the effigy of Guy Fawkes burn. Oh yes, we still burn him, after all this time.

Here is a link that provides more information about Guy Fawkes: